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Discover the Secret to Perfect Room Proportions: The Rule of Thirds

Have you ever walked into a room and felt instantly at ease, where every element seems to fall perfectly into place? Or perhaps you've encountered spaces that feel awkward, despite being beautifully decorated.

The difference often lies in one crucial design principle—scale.

Scale, the relationship between the size of various elements in a room, is a game-changer in interior design. It can mean the difference between a room that feels harmonious and one that feels disjointed.

Today I'm sharing a golden nugget of design wisdom: The Rule of Thirds.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

It's a simple guideline that ensures the proportions in your space are pleasing to the eye. When pairing items together, like a piece of art above a sofa or a lamp on a side table, the smaller item should be roughly two-thirds the size of the larger item. This rule provides an easy way to achieve balance without the guesswork.

Illustration by Rob Rice for Lauren Figueroa Interior Design of the Rule of Thirds in interior design. The image displays a cross-section of a room where a large sofa is placed against a wall with an artwork above it. The artwork is proportionally smaller, approximately two-thirds the width of the sofa, demonstrating the application of the Rule of Thirds to create balance and harmony in the room's layout.

When in Doubt, Size Up!

It's rare to see an oversized painting or mirror that overwhelms a room. More commonly, accessories are chosen too small, leading to a sense of imbalance. A larger rug or piece of wall decor anchors the space, giving it a more luxurious and intentional feel.

How to Use the Rule of Thirds:

When applying this principle, think of your larger piece as the canvas, and your smaller piece as the accent. For instance:

  • If you have a 9-foot sofa, the artwork above should be around 6 feet wide, or fill about that amount of space.

  • For a coffee table in front of a sofa, if the sofa is 9 foot long, aim for a coffee table about 5-6 feet in length.

  • Choosing a rug? For an 8-foot sofa, a rug around 12 feet wide maintains the aesthetic proportion.

This approach isn't just for furniture and decor. It applies to lighting, textiles, and even architectural features. Consistency with this rule can pull a design together, making your space look cohesive and feel 'just right.'

Remember, good design is all about creating a sense of harmony, and with the Rule of Thirds in your design toolkit, you're well on your way to creating spaces that not only look great but feel perfectly put together.

And if you're looking for some other great design tips on sofas, my friends at have some pointers for how to make a L-shaped sofa look fantastic. Take a look!

Alt text: "A cozy and well-appointed living room featuring a large, neutral-toned sectional sofa facing a modern fireplace and a wall-mounted TV. Floating shelves adorn the wall beside the fireplace, displaying decorative items. A round, wooden coffee table sits in the center with a plant and books on top, and a black Eames-style lounge chair adds a classic touch. The room has large windows with a view of an outdoor seating area and the landscape beyond, bathing the interior in natural light.


Work with Lauren Figueroa Interior Design

LFID is an interior design firm serving clients throughout West and Southeast Michigan, from Detroit to Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor to Lansing, Holland to Traverse City, and anywhere in between. My goal is to create bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about!

Have your own renovation or remodel project you'd like to tackle? Or maybe you have a room or two to furnish? I've got your back:

If you have a project on the horizon, get started by telling us a little about your vision here, and you can view past projects here. Thanks for stopping by!

A mood board for a living room design titled '72ND STREET LIVING ROOM'. It features a selection of furniture and decor items including a tufted brown sofa, two plush armchairs, a wooden coffee table, and a bench with striped upholstery. The board also shows decorative pieces like a large abstract painting, a framed mirror, side table lamps, and various textured throw pillows and blankets in neutral colors. An assortment of rugs in different patterns completes the curated design aesthetic.


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